REVIEWER: Scott J. Mantie, Ph.D. associate dean for Institutional Research and Assessment at Plymouth State University.

BACKGROUND: Plymouth State University (located in Plymouth, New Hampshire) is a co-educational, residential university with an enrollment of approximately 4,300 undergraduate and 2,700 graduate students. Plymouth State has 188 professors and instructors, 94 percent of which hold a doctorate or terminal degree in their field. The student to faculty ratio is 17:1.

PLATFORMS: Desktop/laptop computers - mostly Dell - Windows based. Administrative computers are Oracle based.

PROBLEM SOLVED: There are many disparate collections of data across the campus, available regionally and nationally that need to be aggregated or organized to be used. Rapid Insight Data Integration effectively allows data organization to be efficiently and effectively accomplished without programming skills.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: We use Data Integration to identify and preserve data libraries and definitions through the use of pictorial schemas produced when creating a data collection job. These schemas give us a clear, graphical representation of the data and what we need to do with it. The software boosts our data collection effectiveness by enabling us to easily and completely rewrite all data collection procedures used within Institutional Research and Assessment. Data integration helps us ensure data integrity and accuracy. We can quickly identify and fix errors and maintain reliability, primarily by allowing unsophisticated users to review how and from where data is obtained. The software makes it easy to record processes and train new personnel to use the administrative data system. One of Data Integration’s most strategic benefits is the automation of mandatory data reporting to local, regional and national organizations, such as the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) of  the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES).

STRENGTHS: Data Integration is very easy to use, making data collection accessible to people of all skill levels. That simplicity comes from pictorial data displays for job creation, allowing users to "see" how the data relate. Data Integration nodes are extremely powerful, providing flexibility in how to use the data. The software operates efficiently on a PC or laptop, giving users the flexibility to access data when and where they need to. Data Integration maintains data security, residing on users’ computers just as word processing or spreadsheet programs would. The software is affordable, making it a smart business decision for organizations.

WEAKNESSES: Because Data Integration is a relatively new product, there are few books, publications or user groups to share collective information. Prospective customers won’t understand how easy and functional this product is until they see a demonstration. This could slow adoption given the product’s emerging stages. Because Data Integration presents a new standard for collecting and organizing data, users will need to think in different terms about data collection and presentation in order to realize the software’s possibilities.

SELECTION CRITERIA: I’ve been involved with data administration for more than 20 years, having used SQL, Oracle, Access, Banner and other systems to slice and dice data. I arrived here to a system that was largely based on Microsoft Access. When I first saw a demonstration of Rapid Insight Data Integration, I realized it "leap frogs" every other similar solution on the market. It is much easier to use than Access and doesn’t require SQL or other specialized programming to collect or organize data.

DELIVERABLES: Data Integration presents data in a variety of formats, allowing us to: create data marts; flatten data sets; integrate disparate file types (i.e., Excel, Access, ASCII, text, Banner and Oracle); automate data collection and reporting; create data libraries and data definitions; create a printable record of all procedures for used to collect data; and, permit what-if questions of data.

VENDOR SUPPORT: I’ve been 100 percent satisfied with question resolution, having all phone calls and emails returned within 24 hours. The company also solicits ideas and suggestions for product improvement.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is easy to understand and completely describes the product. Over time, as the product is used by more users, a broader range of real-life examples will be helpful.

Rapid Insight Data Integration

Rapid Insight Inc.

53 Technology Lane Suite 112

Conway, NH 03818

Phone: (888)-585-6511

www.rapidinsightinc.com

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